AI Powered Chat Support: Revolutionizing Customer Service
Online or internet chat brings back memories of being hunched in front of desktop computers, firing away at the keyboard, making conversation in real-time with multiple persons, in virtual chat rooms. The initial concept was developed in the mid-1960s. But, live chat or instant messaging (IM), as it popularly began to be known, didn’t become mainstream until the 1990s, post the wide-spread penetration of the internet.
One of the earliest IM apps was ICQ, which was able to reach a large online audience. But, the game changer was AOL’s AIM (launched in 1997), a messenger app that featured profiles of users, and had icons and away messages, for a more engaging experience. Soon followed a slew of other IM apps, including Yahoo messenger, MSN Messenger, and Skype.
Social media chat like Facebook messenger and Gtalk, followed by mobile based apps like Whatsapp, may have replaced the IM apps. But, these IM apps set the foundation for enterprise chat support. While they initially attracted the tech savvy innovators and early adopters, these messenger apps eventually became common place. As internet usage spread across the globe, and people became familiar with the concept of live chat, enterprises began offering support through live chat.Enterprise chat support
While the role of live chat has diminished for personal use, it has grown as a medium of delivering customer support, since its introduction by enterprises in 1996. A 2015 Gartner study estimated live chat to grow as a preferred customer engagement channel from 2%, to 10% in 2018, in terms of the share of over-all interactions.
Live chat offers the convenience of real-time support as provided by a call-center, with none of the delay and resulting frustration of being kept on hold. And it’s a step-up from e-mail, which doesn’t cause the annoyance of a long-waiting time, but, also doesn’t offer real-time support.
Live chat support is one of the preferred mediums of communication as per a study quoted in a Forbes article. 92% of those surveyed felt better satisfied upon using an organization’s live chat feature, as against other communication channels like voice, email, web form, and social media. This is not surprising, given that chat support allows customers to multi-task, and when in the middle of a task, especially online shopping, they can get immediate help without interrupting their activity. Support of this kind has been particularly helpful in increasing sales of online retailers. As per a study by Kayako, 79% of businesses surveyed found live chat support to positively impact sales, revenue, and customer loyalty. Additionally, the report states that 38% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that provides live chat support, while 52% are more likely to repurchase from such a company.
Live chat support can help cut down costs for enterprises, by saving on employee time spent on a task, as well as phone expenses. As compared to call centers, live chat support has lower average interactions costs. Employees can handle multiple chat conversations, thereby reducing the number of agents to be hired, as well as cutting down the wait time.
Quality live chat support can improve customer experience drastically. Live chat support saves the customer from calling a helpline, where they have to get past myriad IVR options, before reaching a customer service agent. This in itself is an improvement. Further, through chat support, customers can leave a message at any time, review the history of the conversation easily, and respond when it’s convenient to them. The Kayako study found that “Consumers are more likely to remain loyal, engage in positive word of mouth, and spend up to $500 extra per month with businesses that provide effortless live chat experiences.”
Chat support is particularly appealing to younger consumers, who use texting as a primary mode of communication. Also, live chat support provides immediate response from a live person, thus, allowing for a higher degree of personalization, a key consideration for the demanding and well-informed customers of today.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in chat support
A Forrester report states that, “55% of US adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question. 77% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.”
Customers want exceptional service, and they are not willing to settle. Open to self-service for instant gratification, customers expect a consistent, omni-channel experience, that offers customization, convenience, and meaningful engagement. They want assistance when they seek it, while at other times, they prefer to find solutions on their own. These demands are putting immense pressure on companies. Nothing less than a superlative customer experience will do.
As part of AI in enterprise chat support, one can’t ignore the role of chatbots. While the most widely known chatbots are digital personal assistants like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google’s Assistant, or supercomputers like IBM’s Watson, several companies use chatbots as an effective way to interact with customers, and collect and analyze vital data on a large scale.
The Ericsson Mobility Report 2017 states that by 2020 there will be 6.1 billion smartphone users globally. Chatbots will serve as an efficient and cost-effective way for enterprises to serve their burgeoning customer base. And with machine learning and NLP, these chatbots are developing advanced cognitive capabilities, to become more than mere document retrievers. They will be able to provide a humanized, contextual interaction, at much faster speeds, and at any hour, anywhere. Chatbots can also be tasked to answer FAQs to meet the self-help needs of digital natives who need quick solutions to common problems, but, don’t want to bother with human interaction. They will reduce an organization’s support costs, by catering to a large number of customers, without the loss of a personal approach.
An excellent model for enterprise chat support that can create an impeccable live chat experience, is the combination of the intelligent chatbot and the human customer service agent. The chatbot with its machine learning-driven deductive capabilities can proactively predict issues and provide solutions to its human counterpart, thereby ensuring faster and more accurate resolution. Further, if a customer is dissatisfied with the chatbot’s response or the problem is too complex, they can be serviced by a human agent. This allows for an organization’s human capital to focus on issues that require their expertise, instead of wasting their time and skills on mundane and repetitive tasks.
As AI technologies continue to evolve, chat support will be able to provide a superior customer experience that encompasses quality, speed, and most importantly a customized and unique interaction.
CSS Corp’s chat support solution
As chat support rises to become a favored medium for customer service, companies can rely on CSS Corp’s sophisticated AI based Cognitive Customer Experience Platform that includes enterprise chat support.
The AI-based virtual assistant platform assists organizations in their endeavor to provide a seamless, personalized, and engaging experience to their customers.
The platform makes the best of human and machine intelligence to offer context-based and personalized solutions, through interactions that are humanistic and conversational. It can be integrated with all customer channels like voice, email, chat, and website, across multiple devices. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP), AI, machine learning and deep learning techniques, it predicts intelligently, automates queuing, routing and channel allocation, and analyzes vast quantities of data to provide insightful answers. Further, it can be easily linked with Amazon Echo, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Now.
The solution improves customer experience by 25%, reduce costs by 50%, and enhance support agent/engineer productivity by 30%.